I’ll be the first one to admit that when it comes to the contents of my freezer, it’s very much “out of sight, out of mind.” And that’s a problem, because while our freezers can keep food fresh for a long time, not even frozen food lasts forever!
I don’t think I’m alone in neglecting the contents of my freezer, so we could probably all stand to go through our freezers and purge everything that needs to go. After all, it’s a waste to keep a bunch of unidentified and possibly inedible food in there when freezer space is often at a premium!
Below, you’ll find a list of 7 things in your freezer you can get rid of today, whether it’s past its prime or past all recognition! Get rid of these and free up more room for frozen foods you’ll actually eat!
7 Things In Your Freezer You Should Throw Out
1. Smelly Ice Cubes
Once ice cubes have absorbed the scents around them, those scents are there to stay, and there’s nothing refreshing about a gulp of ice water that tastes like last week’s garlic! Toss those stinky cubes and start fresh.
If this is a recurring problem, you might want to invest in ice cube trays with lids. They’ll help keep your ice smelling and tasting the way it should smell and taste: like nothing.
2. Thawed Meat
Keeping a supply of chicken or beef freezer meals on hand can be really great for busy weeknights, but if your freezer isn’t at the optimal temperature, it can allow the meat to begin to thaw and make it unsafe to eat. Use a freezer thermometer to monitor the temperature patterns in your freezer to make sure the meat you’re keeping there won’t make someone sick. (And when in doubt, throw it out!)
3. Unrecognizable Leftovers
I love saving money and time by finding creative ways to use up leftovers — but they don’t last forever! If you’ve got some mystery leftovers in the freezer and you can’t remember what they were, it’s time to toss them out. I’ve got a handy, free printable that will help you avoid this situation in the future. (And don’t forget to label things with the name of the food and the date you stored it!)
4. Stale Coffee Beans
I know a lot of people who just can’t start the day without a steaming cup of fresh, hot coffee — but old, stale coffee is probably not what they are hoping for! Storing coffee in the freezer can preserve its freshness for a time, but be mindful of how long it’s been in there.
Coffee beans can absorb moisture, tastes, and smells, so it’s best to use them within three months. If yours are past their prime, don’t throw them out — instead, consider the household uses for coffee grounds in this post.
5. Anything With Freezer Burn
Freezer burn is the most common freezer damage to be aware of. It can make meat, veggies, and even bread taste dry and flavorless. If you notice ice crystals in the package or can’t remember how long that meat has been in the freezer, it’s time to toss it.
Tightly sealing food before freezing it is the best way to ward off freezer burn, as well as preventing the transfer of flavors and odors between foods. I recommend a vacuum sealer for that. Also, try to minimize how frequently you open your freezer door, which will help with the temperature fluctuations that can lead to freezer burn.
6. Ice-Covered Dairy
Whether it’s ice cream, yogurt, or milk, dairy items won’t hold up for more than one to three months in your freezer. And even though you can successfully freeze dairy products, the texture is likely to suffer.
The water in dairy tends to separate and create ice crystals, which is why frozen cheese in particular tends to be more crumbly than it was when it was fresh. With frozen cream cheese however, if you give it a good stir (or better yet, let an electric mixer to the work for you), it will get nice and creamy again and be ready to use in any of your favorite recipes.
7. Anything That Smells “Off” When Thawed
Your senses are there for a reason, so let your nose be your guide! If something just doesn’t smell right when you’ve thawed it, you should probably throw it out. It might not be harmful, but it definitely won’t be tasty!
How Long Can I Keep Food In My Freezer?
- So how long can you reasonably keep specific types of food in your freezer, anyway? Here’s what the FDA has to say on the matter—consider these to be a set of “frozen food expiration dates”:
- 1 – 2 months: pizza, raw sausage, and bacon
- 2 – 4 months: prepared meats, doughs, vegetables, fruits, soups, and stews
- 6 – 12 months: raw red meat and poultry
When was the last time you did a freezer inventory?